Book of Short Stories, By Fifth Grade Pupils

A Book Of Short Stories page 26

Jack and the Sugar Cane

Jane Roehner

Jack Frost was tired and discouraged. For years he had stood like a tin soldier on the side of a blue box holding a tablet in his arms and smiling, smiling all the time. It began to be harder and harder to smile and the tabled seemed ever so heavy.

Finally Jack thought of a plan. he would get his twin brother, who looked like him, to take his job for a month. After all, he reasoned, when you're a trade-mark you ought to know all about the thing you represent.

So the next morning a boat left with Jack aboard. Soon they landed in Havana, Cuba and Jack stepped off the boat. He did not stay in the city of Havana, though it was very interesting and modern, but drove quickly out into the open country. There he found, as far as he could look, acres and acres of sugar cane. Some of the sugar cane reached as high as twelve feet in the air. When he walked into the fields Jack saw that the sugar can was something like bamboo, with joints up and down the stalk and wide grass-like leaves and feathery flowers all up at the top. The dark natives dressed in loose garments and big sun hats walked through the rows in the blazing sun, cutting the canes with a very sharp knife called a machete. Then they loaded the canes on an open cart drawn by oxen.

Finally they reached the sugar mill or central, as it is called, and drove into a big yard. In the mill a very nice man who seemed to be the mill superintendent explained what happened to the sugar cane. First, the canes were crushed between great rollers and all the juice squeezed out. Then this juice was chemically treated with lime and then heated, with the result that the dirt and straw and other impurities went to the bottom of the tanks and the pure cane juice came to the top. The third step was to syphon the pure juice off into another tank. It was so thin it looked just like colored water to Jack. He watched them apply heat to these big closed tanks and gradually this thin fluid turned to a syrup.

The syrup was then run into what was called vacuum pans with heated copper coils in them. As it came out of the pans it was a sticky substance with tiny granules all through it, and the man explained that the granules were really sugar floating around in molasses. The next step was to get it separated from the molasses, and this was done in great round drums which spun around at a terrific speed so that the molasses ran out through the holes. The brownish raw sugar was then ready to be shipped. It was packed in burlap bags, about 320 pounds to a bag, and shipped away from the central. These bags were loaded on the boat, which Jack boarded, bound for home.

The boat docked at the pier after reaching New York and Jack watched them unload the great bags and wondered how it was made into the glistening white crystals that had come out of his boxes. He soon learned how raw sugar was made into lovely, white sparkling sugar in the sugar refinery. The bags were emptied and the raw sugar carried up into the building by endless bucket elevators and dumped into a long mingling trough.

The raw sugar in the mingling trough was then mixed with syrup and the whole mushy mixture was passed into a big mixing tank to separate the crystals from the syrup, after which the mixture was run into big centrifugal drums like those Jack had seen in Cuba and as they spun around rapidly the liquid flew off through the fine wire mesh of the drums and the washed crystals were left begind [sic]. These washed crystals were melted in hot water and certain substances added to clarify it and the whole mixture was pumped through closely woven cloth in the filter presses. After this there was still one more purifying process through which to go, so the liquid was run through great tanks of bone black, eighteen or twenty feed deep, called char filters. The liquid which flowed out of these filters was no longer muddy and colored but clear and sparkling like pure spring water. Again the liquid went into the big whirling drums but this time the crystals left on the inside of the drums were pure glistening white sugar.

Jack's adventure was over and he had to go back to his job, but now he was happy and was really glad to be the Jack Frost trade-mark, as he knew what he represented and he was proud to be the guarantee of every package of sugar that went out of his refinery. So with a smiling face, contented and proud, he took the tablet from his brother and stepped back onto the side of the blue pasteboard box.

Jane Roehner

School No. 37